MPIEP No. 15

"Perfidious Albion – Again? The UK, BREXIT and EU Foreign Policy"

Geoffrey Edwards


The paper explores factors behind the critique of the UK as being perfidious and awkward. It examines Britain’s core beliefs of being a global rather than merely a European power, of having a special relationship with the United States, of being internationalist in terms of trade and, somewhat paradoxically, of taking pride in being pragmatic. These beliefs have led to the rejection of blueprints for integration and a preference for bilateral cooperation rather than multilateral relationships. Post-BREXIT Britain will be confronted with potential dilemmas if the Franco-German tandem leads to closer cooperation on security and defence within the European Union and in cooperation with NATO, especially given an unpredictable United States under President Trump. These dilemmas and Britain’s preoccupation with the consequences of BEXIT suggest that it will have minimal influence on Europe’s future.

Keywords: BREXIT, European Union, foreign policy, global power, special relationship, pragmatism, influence, United Kingdom

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